In The News

Bronx State Senator Backs Two Mayoral Candidates In First Ranked-Choice Voting Endorsement

Originally published by Gothamist.

In the first endorsement ranking candidates in the 2021 mayoral primary, Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera announced Sunday that he’s backing both Comptroller Scott Stringer and former non-profit CEO Dianne Morales.

Rivera’s top choice is Stringer, and his second pick is Morales—similar what New Yorkers will have to decide in June when they fill out their ballots in the first citywide election with ranked-choice voting in place. Though Rivera ranked just two candidates, voters will be able to choose up to five candidates, ranking them in order of preference.

“They’re both born and raised New Yorkers,” Rivera said during the Sunday announcement. “They both have a tried and true experience. It means they can both run the city.”

“They both understand recovery and transformation,” Rivera said.

Stringer said the two candidates are not cross-endorsing each other, though Morales did call Stringer her number-two choice. Rivera said he felt he had to endorse and rank two candidates because of the new election procedure, which passed during the 2019 election with an overwhelming majority.

Rivera said the new procedure “makes sure that we have a conversation about ideas.”

“How do we actually get the city that we deserve for the folks that are the most vulnerable? How do we actually achieve that? We need to make sure that those conversations happen,” Rivera said.

Ranked-choice voting requires a candidate to accrue more than 50% of the vote to win. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the last place candidate is dropped, and the people who voted for the losing candidate as their top choice will have their second choice counted. The process repeats until there is a winner. The voting method debuted in a special election for a Queens City Council seat.

Morales said, “Candidates like me—political outsiders, first timers, women of color—are often overlooked during our races.”

“Words like viability and electability, which often serve as code for those with wealthy networks or deep pockets, serve as gatekeepers, even though most of us would agree that elected office should be accessible to everyone,” she said. “Ranked-choice voting has the potential to give voters real options and change the playing field for candidates like me.”

“I do think we can have a civil discussion in this city on the issues that matter the most,” Stringer said Sunday. “And I look forward to having that discussion with Dianne Morales.”

Morales called on the city to lead a campaign to inform New Yorkers about ranked-choice voting that is linguistically- and culturally-minded. She added, “We are leading by example so that we can begin to demystify the process.”